With today’s “slow” economy and no relief in sight, saving money is becoming an ever-important task on the minds of consumers. Cutting back on splurges like eating out and vacations may have been the first to go, but when the recession showed no sign of relief after several months, many consumers began looking for ways to cut back on necessities as well to conserve more cash. One major source of budget cut backs is the cost of housing. Some consumers spend as much as 80% of their income on housing costs, so finding ways to shave even a few dollars off keeping a roof over your head can provide huge relief to a strained budget. Here are five options.
Share the Cost
One of the most effective ways to reduce living expenses is to share the burden with another person. A roommate, boarding guest, or romantic mate can help make your housing dollars go further. To find a roommate, you can approach people you already know, or peruse ads in magazines and newspapers for people looking for affordable housing in your area. Just be sure to interview all potential roomies and go with your instincts when choosing whom to exclude from your short list of housemates.
Another affordable option is to hire yourself out as a house sitter. In this type of arrangement, you agree to water the houseplants, cut the grass, feed Fido, and keep an eye out for burglars and vandals in exchange for free housing until the owners return home. Many home owners utilize house sitting services while traveling for business, taking extended vacations, or when living in another region for part of the year. Having impeccable references and a responsible attitude is a must for all potential house sitters, so be mindful of your actions!
Yes, downsizing is the one budgeting option that almost everyone cringes at, but if you stop to consider if you really need a fourth bedroom or an attached garage when compared to the money you’ll save, you may find that downsizing to a more affordable home is the most viable option for your lifestyle. Just be sure to factor in a further commute to work, added utilities, or other expenses that might come with a change in location before you make your final decision.
Invest in Real Estate
If you have the backbone for trying out a career as a landlord, you may find that this practice can be quite lucrative in the right areas. Purchasing a foreclosed home and investing a few thousand dollars in making the home tenant ready can return a yield of $500, $1000, or $2000 every month, depending on the property and the location of the home. Though this is an extremely simplified version of what’s involved, the added income can quickly add up to a cushy savings or investment account for the brave landlord.
Invest in Energy Saving Upgrades
Many states are now offering tax breaks and incentives for upgrading to solar powered additions to your home or business. In some states, the refunds are staggering and the benefits in energy savings over the course of year more than pay for the initial investment. Federal tax incentives for purchasing energy efficient appliances are also a great way to invest in your home and save money.
Saving money on housing during a recession is not always an easy task, but a willingness to adapt to the situation will help you think of creative ways to trim your budget and supplement your income. While some of the suggested options may not be right for your situation, you can use these ideas as a springboard for adapting them to meet your individual needs. Put on your thinking caps and start saving money!
Photo Credit: See-Ming Lee